A constant criticism I’ve heard this year from people who follow the Vikings is about Adrian Peterson. It’s as if some suggest that #28 had a down year.
And I’m just not seeing it.
Or maybe I’m just not agreeing with it. I can see where fans point to the 7 lost fumbles. I’ll acknowledge, that is a bad mark on his body of work. And it’s also important to point out that his yards per carry number went down this season while his negative yardage runs went up.
But with all of that said, I look back at Peterson’s season to this point and think he actually had a great year. He finished 2nd in the NFC and 5th in the NFL in rushing yards with 1,383, which is the 3rd best single-season effort in Vikings history and is more than he had during his rookie season. He averaged 4.4 yards per carry and was 2nd in the NFL in runs of 20+ yards.
Perhaps most importantly, though, is the fact that Peterson tallied a league-high 18 TDs and set a Vikings single-season records for games with a TD (12).
Another criticism I hear about Peterson is that the Vikings don’t use him correctly. But again, I disagree. I’d actually argue that the Vikings have done a great job so far this season of using #28.
Sure, there are times late in games – in crunch time – when the Vikings best player (Peterson) isn’t in the game. But isn’t that why you have a player such as Chester Taylor? If you’ve got a guy who can pass protect and come out of the backfield as a great receiver in the screen game and the short passing game, why not use him?
On top of that, utilizing Peterson and Taylor in combination has probably increased production from Peterson. Since Peterson was drafted by the Vikings in 2007, Taylor has 352 carries and he’s gained 4.5 yards per carry. So, the Vikings have taken 352 carries off of Peterson’s workload (that’s a whole season’s worth of carries) over the past 3 seasons and they’ve still gained 4.5 yards on each of those carries. That’s a very good job of managing RBs.
Just think about how quickly we’ve seen guys such as Larry Johnson and Terrell Davis and Jamal Anderson fall off the shelf because of over-use. The Vikings are avoiding that by using Taylor a fair amount. It’s extending Peterson’s career and, this year more than any other year, it’s kept Peterson fresh as we approach the playoffs.
Finally, one more reason I think Peterson has had a great year and the Vikings have done a great job of managing the league’s best RB is because they’re continuing to improve his overall skill set. Peterson had a career-high 43 receptions for 436 yards during the 2009 regular season. His previous single-season high for receptions was 21 for 125 yards. The coaching staff is finding more ways to get him the ball? I’m all for that.
My conclusion is the Vikings used Peterson beautifully this season. They put him in when it counted (18 TDs), they saved wear and tear on him (Chester had 138 touches) and they nearly doubled his previous career-high in receptions.
Tags: Adrian Peterson, Chester Taylor
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 7 Comments »